GFF23: Frightfest: The Rundown


By Rhianna McGhee


This year presents Glasgow Film Festival’s ‘Off-Kilter genre at its finest’. Prepare to be shook to your core by some of GFF’s most spooky and gory visuals. Definitely not for the faint hearted, you’re prewarned to come with your own pillow protection! In its 19th year GFF is yet again delivering the best of cinema to our doorstep, and you’d be silly to chicken out! Before the action officially kicks off at the beginning of March, let’s explore the scariest features of this year’s Frightfest.


This Frightfest features Travis Bible’s exploration of the horror behind social media. The director of popular 2014 film Unfriended continues with another take on how the public respond to the fear of others. We follow a group of influencers exploring the supposedly haunted ‘Devil’s Manor’, a previous base for a Satanic Cult. The film follows the video bloggers’ demise and with each minute of their stream, the violence increases. And of course, as the horror grows, so do the views and likes. Satanic rituals aside, perhaps the true fear is in society itself.

Smoking Causes Coughing 

Now if media influencers don’t do it for you, look no further than Quentin Dupieux’s Smoking Causes Coughing. This French director is no stranger to the GFF Frightfest, (think Rubber, 2010). If you’re looking for a ‘quirky absurdist comedy sci-fi fantasy’ this just about covers it. The team involved known as The Tobacco Force take cigarette cancer-causing substances and use them as weapons. In battle, it seems that the team can use such a common element as the cigarette to frighten their opponents. When considered deeply this definitely is a bizarre concept, but after all, Dupieux is tackling the wider problems of the power of the cigarette and the monopoly of consumerism. Sometimes reality is a scary enough concept for the horror genre!

Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey 

Think about your fond childhood memories of A. A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh and Christopher Robin, lulling younger you to sleep. Now think about the same characters but add gore, hunger, murder, and rage. Not quite the innocent story anymore. Well, director Rhys Frake-Waterfield explores the grudge that Winnie the Pooh holds over Christopher Robin after he stops visiting him. With explicit anger, Pooh and Piglet undertake a ‘murderous scavenger hunt for human flesh’ and the ultimate goal of the film is to redeem their souls. Will Christopher Robin make a breakthrough with Pooh or will that once precious bedtime story become a nightmare?

Hunt Her, Kill Her 

If the techniques of suspenseful film-making interest you then you don’t want to miss Ryan Thiessen and Greg Swinson’s ‘taut, brutally intense thriller’, Hunt Her, Kill Her. The focus on space and time in the filming process is used to create an ongoing level of suspense in this film that will leave you on edge throughout. This feature of Frightfest is categorically chilling. How will you feel watching a wife on-the-run from her abusive husband, only to encounter worse on her journey? The suspense is a killer.

This was just a short list of some of the films featured in 2023’s GFF Frightfest. You’ll have to attend yourself to make the most of the spooky experience. So, go grab a pillow- you’ll be hugging it to your chest!

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